Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Thousand Paper Cranes

'Senbanzuru' is a cluster of 1000 origami cranes tied together by strings. Crane is the national bird of Japan. The bird crane is considered very auspicious and every Japanese knows how to fold a paper crane. It is believed that anyone folding thousand origami cranes will be granted one wish by a crane.

Sadako Sasaki, a girl who got affected by leuekemia in the Hiroshima-Nagashaki atomic bombing wanted to recover from her illness. So, she set on to folding 1000 origami cranes. But she died when she completed 644 cranes. This touched the hearts of those who were around her. So they folded the rest of the cranes and buried her with 1000 cranes. In order to make her wish come true, they made a statue of her with a crane perching on her hand and thereby making her immortal.

The pile of 1000 paper cranes
It is common to see in Japanese weddings people gift a 'Senbanzuru' for the newly married couple and wishing them thousand years of happiness and prosperity. It is believed that having a Senbanzuru in home attracts enormous luck and benevolent charm.

After learning about this, I decided to take up the ultimate Origami project- 'folding 1000 cranes' and not wish for anything myself.
I had always been the kind of person who wanted to do many things but would never begin/complete as I get distracted easily. Also, I want to test myself if I could work towards something with out any reward and just for the joy of doing it.

It took me three weeks to fold, sort and string the origami cranes. I tied the cranes to form a long screen which is now hanging above the hand rail partitioning the living and visitors areas of my Dad's residence.

The whole project to me was very uplifting. The moment I completed the project I was so elated. And that feeling of accomplishment , I have never felt before for anything else.  Not even when I was graduating! All these three weeks, my mind was only in completing the project and never to give up.

Many would wonder how come folding 1000 cranes would grant one wish. The logic is pretty simple. Folding an origami crane is not a random act and it needs focus and some concentration. As you fold 1000 origami cranes thinking about something you want to get, you are programming your subconscious mind 1000 times what you wish for to happen-like a meditation. As a result, your sub conscious mind will make you work towards your goal and get it.

For those who are interested in the project, see this brilliant youtube tutorial and here is an easy way to assemble the cranes to make a beautiful curtain.

How to string the cranes:

  • Measure the length of each strand you want it to be on white thread. Using the sewing needle pierce through the bottom of the crane on the thread
  • Connect 10 cranes (if making 100 strands) per string.
  • Space out the crane with equal gaps in between the cranes. Leave 2 inches of the thread on the top.
  • Using a toothpick, take some  white glue and place dots on the bottom and top end of each crane. Let it dry before you hang the string vertical.

The glue prevents the crane from jamming together and they look evenly spaced out while hanging.
I find this method easier than beading and knotting.

I'm not an artist. But looking at the 'Senbanzuru' makes me feel like I have created a masterpiece. This project also refined me to be a better person. Patience, serenity, determination, persistence, magnanimity, optimism are some of the great virtues the cranes taught me throughout the project.

Honestly, I don't know what to wish for myself. Right now, I feel pretty contend with my life. There are thousand cranes here, so whoever visits this page make a wish for yourself and I wish the crane would grant you :)


  1. Good write up. i did not think about it when i did my TM project. So, really i sold it !!!Keep it up.

  2. Wow! I am amazed at this project....looks so beautiful dear.

  3. Hello Madhu, Amazing Project, Bravo! you inspire me to take up this challenge...owe you.

  4. excellent job machi. seeing those i can understand the humanity and humbleness towards other ppl. u r giving happy things to many ppl. good ..i will make a wish. thanx de

  5. Just chanced upon your blog from another; loved this post. Lovely idea.